My grandfather

9 01 2020

Sweat and dirt: I remember my grandfather from that smell. One memory that jumps out at me must have taken place when I was eight years old. My grandfather had to stop by the vineyard where he picked, or had picked… I am not sure if he was even retired at that point. Maybe he had been working because I remember the distinct smell of sweaty clothes caked in dirt. Oddly enough, it is not an unpleasant smell. When I think of my grandfather who lived more than 90 years, one of the first things that I think of is that he was a good worker. Quiet, always looking for something to do, but when he relaxed, he liked the quiet of his own house. That is Lesson no. 1 from my grandfather: Don’t be lazy. Lazy is the worst thing you could be. That’s not because he sought wealth. Though he lived a comfortable retirement due to the support of his many children, he wasn’t prosperous by any stretch of the imagination. Really, work is about love. If you do not go to bed tired only to get up early to go back at it, you haven’t lived a full day. At least that is what I try to live by now. Read the rest of this entry »





Noche Buena

25 12 2019

http://nebula.wsimg.com/d1ccdce71e651d836841744ada206f0f?AccessKeyId=A895B0DD8A75E6F0DC43&disposition=0&alloworigin=1

My last memory of my grandmother took place on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t the last time I saw her by any means, but it is what I remember most about her now. It wasn’t all the times she dragged me to the charismatic prayer meetings, or told us to go play outside because we were making too much noise. It wasn’t her rubbing a tomato on her feet for some weird reason, or her watching telenovelas (though watching them with her was fun). I don’t think about how she would make me my own little hard cakes of sweet dough because I didn’t like the pumpkin filling of her empanadas though I liked the dough. It wasn’t even the last Thanksgiving I spent with her when she told us about how when she was growing up she didn’t have shoes, just huaraches made of wood that would leave her feet bloody from splinters at the end of the day. The last memory I have of her is from the last Christmas I spent with her. She began the rosary on the night of Christmas Eve, we muddled through some villancicos, and at the end of it, she picked up her little Niño Dios, maybe no more than four inches long, and began rocking Him like a real baby. She had dressed Him in new clothes, and placed Him in the crib decorated with lights. Of all the memories I have of my grandmother, that’s the one that sticks. That’s the one that stays with me. Read the rest of this entry »





Notes on liturgical maximalism

30 04 2019

Just some unconnected thoughts I’ve had recently.

As you may know, I was connected to the Society of St. Pius X for a number of years in my youth. This experience was quite formative to me. My experience of the traditional liturgy was thus somewhat minimalistic and combative. Back in the late 1990’s, you were lucky to find the old Latin Mass anywhere. It was either relegated to the basement, to a time that was equivalent to the basement, or it could be found in little chapels or in groups that were considered “schismatic”. In the SSPX in particular, it was made clear to us that the liturgy was just the tip of the iceberg. Ecumenism, religious liberty, the New Theology, really it was opposing these things that brought me into the traditionalist sphere in the first place, at least initially. Later I would become much softer on these issues (wishy-washy?) but I never forgot that all of this was connected. The modernists also grew up in and celebrated the traditional liturgy for years before they got to change it. The traditional liturgy was thus never a panacea for me. Read the rest of this entry »





Mighty Mexican Mothers: Santa Muerte as Female Empowerment in Oaxaca

16 01 2019

On an old theme of this blog.

Most Holy Death

smkatecover1As the sole female folk saint of death in the Americas, Santa Muerte has a special appeal to women, especially disprivileged Mexican mothers . In the piece below anthropologist Dr. Kate Kingsbury* considers the contours of devotion among rural women in coastal Oaxaca.

-Rural Oaxaca, the outskirts of Pochutla, Mexico

When we got home one night two scorpions awaited us inside the house. One was in the knife holder, in the middle of 6 blades. The most lethal jackknife of all: a black, flailing malignant barb that looked eager to slash and envenom its victim. The handle of an umbrella was thwacked down on it by my other half, as I stood shocked, shaking, until its exoskeleton exploded, exuding a mephitic liquid that had ants frenzied as they supped on its guts.

The following day I saw sweet, unassuming sixty-seven year old Señora Angelica and invited her for a cup…

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Retórica

13 02 2009

leaf

1

Cantan los pájaros, cantan
sin saber lo que cantan:
todo su entendimiento es su garganta.

2

La forma que se ajusta al movimiento
no es prisión sino piel del pensamiento.

3

La claridad del cristal transparente
no es claridad para mí suficiente:
el agua clara es el agua corriente.

-Octavio Paz

The birds sing, they sing
without knowing what they sing:
all of their understanding is their throat.

The form that adjusts to movement
is not a prison but the skin of thought.

The brightness of the transparent glass
is not a brightness that is sufficient for me:
clear water is water that runs.